The Phuket News had the opportunity to speak with Salonen as well as lead actors Max Mauff (Felix), Aisawanya Areyawattana (who plays the title “Patong Girl”, Fai) and Victoria Trauttmansdorff (Annegret), who talked about their experiences developing and filming this nuanced cross-cultural commentary at shoots across Thailand with the support of local crew members.
Emphasising the unique setup and insularity of resort towns, Salonen points out that in places like Phuket, “It’s really where cultures meet one another. On the one hand you have the local population. And then there are the vacationers from around the world, who want to experience something, be spoiled, live out their dreams, find adventure…When their high expectations finally meet reality, it doesn’t always end well.”
The film starts out generically enough, with a German family, the Schroeders travelling to Thailand for one last family vacation before their son Felix leaves home. In Patong, he meets a
local girl, Fai, with whom he falls hopelessly in love with over a few days. With this setup, the film explores various angles, from a mother’s struggle to protect her child, the commonalities and differences between Phuket and Isarn culture, the moral ambiguity tourists experience, creating a riveting interplay with a message of tolerance that is bound to appeal to all audiences, but especially those who inhabit resort towns and regularly experience this context.
Salonen made a point of having both families featured in the film be middleclass, weaving an interesting mix of similarities and cultural contrasts. Mauff and Aisawanya both reflect on that, pointing out that despite what many audiences would consider a uniquely fascinating situation, they were both able to relate to the very human experiences of struggling in love and the complications of cross-cultural experiences.
To commemorate Patong Girl’s release in Thailand, a special Gala event will be hosted at Jungceylon on Monday, April 18, with a reception in the Port Arena area followed by stage interviews with cast and the premiere screening of the film.
For a chance to meet the stars of Patong Girl in person at a red-carpet cocktail gala pre-screening on April 18 in Phuket, tune in to Live 89.5, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Languages: German, English, Thai
Director: Susanna Salonen
Starring: Aisawanya Areyawattana, Max Mauff and Victoria Trauttmansdorff
Notes: Some sexual content, parental discretion advised